Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Restaurants and Patrons, Know the Law about Service Animals

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Restaurants and Patrons, Know the Law about Service Animals

Article excerpt

On a trip to my hometown of Pittsburgh over the holidays, I witnessed a major act of discrimination against my sister - a retired, 20-year Air Force veteran who has a trained service dog.

We entered a local Chinese restaurant and were led to a table in the front of the establishment for our meal. The hostess put down the menus on the table and started giving us directions.

When the hostess saw the service dog and its bright blue vest, her demeanor changed. She picked up the menus from the table and led us to a table in the back of the restaurant with no explanation.

I sought out the manager and explained what happened. "The dogs can't block the aisle," he said. I explained that service dogs are trained to sit under the table close to their owners. I also explained, rather vehemently, that their actions equaled discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

To add to our violation, a patron waiting for a takeout order confronted me, saying the restaurant staff's actions weren't about my sister, her dog or her disability but about the patrons who may fear or be allergic to dogs. …

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